Do you suffer from UTI’s or bladder infections? If so, here are some things you should know and what to do about it.
Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional. Any time you have any issues medically, please get in touch with your medical team for advice/treatment. (Resources for today’s article come from Everydayhealth.com, DrAxe.com, and WebMD.com)
What is a UTI and what causes them?
Urinary Tract Infections are more common in women than men and it’s believed that it’s because the urethra in women is shorter than in men’s bodies. Women are 10 times more likely to get a UTI than men, and one in five women will get one at some point. Bladder infections are the most common type of UTI’s and are usually more annoying than serious. They happen when bacteria (usually E. coli) gets into the urethra causing an infection. Because the urethra in women is close to the vagina and anus (where bacteria live) and is shorter than a man’s, this often causes an infection. Having sex, wiping from back to front after going to the bathroom, putting in tampons, and using a diaphragm for birth control are all ways bacteria can get in.
Holding urine in the bladder for longer than necessary can cause a bladder infection as the urine can flow back to the kidneys. When pregnant, the baby can press against the bladder, preventing the bladder from emptying completely, allowing bacteria a place to grow.
Because women have less estrogen in their body during menopause, the lining of the urethra can thin, changing the bacteria balance, causing infections to become more likely.
In men, enlarged prostate, or a prostate infection preventing the bladder from totally emptying, can cause a bladder infection.
What are the signs of UTI’s?
Cystitis is the medical term for a bladder infection. The most common symptom is a burning feeling when you urinate – some refer it to feeling like a scalding sensation.
Other symptoms you may have:
- unusually frequent urination
- urinating only a small amount each time you go
- cloudy or bloody urine
- Urine that has an unusual/off smell
- pain around the pelvis
- fever (infection may have travelled to the kidneys)
How to detect and treat UTI’s:
If you suspect you have a UTI or bladder infection, it is important to go to the doctor to get a proper diagnosis. They may do a physical exam and discuss with you the symptoms you are experiencing, which may be enough to determine if you have one. They may also do a urine analysis to check for bacteria, blood, and/or pus in your sample. They could also have a urine culture done to find out what the bacteria is that is causing your infection.
If you belong to any of the following groups of people, you may have to go through more extensive testing: children; men (due to the fact they do not usually get bladder infections); people with existing kidney damage; and women who get three or more infections in a year, or have blood in their urine. The doctor can use: a Cystoscopy (a thin tube with a camera is inserted into the urethra to look for problems and/or get a tissue sample – a biopsy – to determine the issue); Imaging such as ultrasound, CT scan, MRI (showing tumors, kidney stones and other issues); Intravenous urogram – IVU (an Xray used with a dye to take images of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder); Voiding cystourethrography (a dye is used to see if any urine flows backward from the bladder to the kidneys); or Retrograde urethrography (a test using dye to find problems in the urethra).
Usually a mild bladder infection will go away on its own within a few days, but if it doesn’t it should be treated with antibiotics to be prescribed by a doctor. The antibiotics will help and usually take 3 to 7 days to act. If you have frequent bouts of UTI’s or stronger infections, you may have to go on a 7-10 day regimen of antibiotics. Another issue is if you are diabetic, you may also be prescribed stronger antibiotics to be used over a longer period of time to clear up the infection.
Women who are past menopause may be prescribed a vaginal cream with estrogen, if it is safe for you.
Men who have an infection caused by a prostate infection may well wind up on antibiotics for several weeks to clear their infection. Also, men who suffer from pain or urgency to urinate, the doctor may prescribe you medication to help with those symptoms.
There are some things you can do at home to help get relief as well. Avoid having sex (or use a condom); drink lots of water, avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and spice foods that can all make the symptoms worse; take a pain reliever; take a 15-20 minute soak in a warm bath; or use a heating pad on your lower belly.
What can you do to prevent UTI’s?
- Avoid bubble baths
- Urinate before sex and promptly after
- Clean your vaginal/genital and anal areas before and after sex
- Drink plenty of water to help your urinary tract rid itself of bacteria
- Drink cranberry juice (if you are able) as it may decrease the number of infections you may get
- Eat raw garlic (due to its antibacterial properties raw garlic helps to reduce the bad bacteria)
- Take D-Mannose which helps to prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract
- Take extra Vitamin C which inhibits the growth of E. coli and enhances the immune system
- Stay clean and dry
- Don’t use a diaphragm or spermicide as a form of birth control
- Men should use a condom to help reduce the risk of getting a UTI from sex
- Get to the doctor right away if you experience any symptoms
- If prescribed antibiotics, make sure to take a good probiotic to replace the good bacteria
Unfortunately, when antibiotics are used extensively for treating certain bacteria they become antibiotic resistant. If you would rather take a more natural approach to treating your UTI, try essential oils. You can use some essential oils to help fight a UTI, but you must be careful when using them. It is not recommended to take them internally except under the supervision of a health care practitioner or nutritionist. Three essential oils that can be used are: Clove oil – has antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties to relieve pain and help promote healing – can be taken internally for a maximum of 2 weeks under supervision of a nutritionist or health care provider; Myrrh oil – has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties to help with wounds and prevent infections – can be applied topically with a carrier oil such as coconut, or jojoba oil; and Oregano oil – has antibacterial properties – can be taken internally for a maximum of 2 weeks under the supervision of a nutritionist or health care provider (it also comes in pill form) – oregano oil can be used instead of antibiotics and does not cause antibiotic resistance.
UTI’s are quite common, and getting one unfortunately puts you at greater risk of having more in the future. Try to minimize the bacteria by taking care to do the things necessary to prevent getting a UTI in the first place.
I hope if you suffer from this very uncomfortable malady that you have found some things here that could help you now and/or in the future.
Have a wonderful rest of your day and week ahead.